“The Hurt Locker” Wins; Iraq Loses

The movie, “The Hurt Locker,” won six Oscars, including Best Picture, for its portrayal of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit in Iraq. The drama about the movie, however, has come from another source; Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver. Sarver has sued the movie company, claiming that the movie was based upon his time and actions in Iraq.

I think we all understand that movie companies and directors take “liberties” when making a movie based upon real events or people. Because of this, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction – from what actually occurred to what the director jazzed up for the movie.

Many aspects about the movie were true. A bomb suit is not going to save the life of an EOD technician if a device detonates and has over a certain amount of explosives and the technician is within a certain distance. Military members in Iraq find ways to procure alcohol and regularly get drunk.

Some of the aspects, if they were true, should give us pause. I found actions taken by the EOD team chief in the movie to be reckless and dangerous. On numerous occasions, his actions put his life, the lives of his team, the lives of security forces and the lives of civilians at risk unnecessarily. He was portrayed as an “out-of-control” cowboy, and, because of it, we got the scene where his team discuss “fragging” him.

Other aspects in the movie were a mere fraction of what actually occurs. Iraqi citizens are not only routinely disrespected, they are simply abused, verbally or physically, by military members and civilian contractors. What is worse is that too many of these people in Iraq are simply trigger-happy, firing upon civilians.

Finally, there are things that didn’t find their way into the movie at all. The movie didn’t show the massive destruction of Iraq caused by our invasion. It didn’t show how, seven years later, some people still don’t have dependable electricity, clean water or adequate sewage. It didn’t show how many Iraqi citizens are still trying to find employment so they can feed their families after we destroyed their infrastructure.

While many Iraqis were glad to have Saddam Hussein removed from power, the US lost that goodwill with indiscriminate and wanton killing of civilians, imprisonment of tens of thousands of Iraqi’s, rapes of Iraqi women and incarceration of their children.

With the Iraqi election almost over, two candidates are now claiming to be the winner; Nuri Al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi. Both of these people are seen by the Iraqi people as little more than US government puppets. There is little optimism that Iraq will be able to return to its sovereignty as both the US military and certain Iraqi officials are saying that US forces may not leave Iraq per the former agreement.

While “The Hurt Locker” was a big winner at the Oscars and the box office, Iraq is still losing.